ALWS Game 5: Shrewsbury bounces back from opening day loss

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Shrewsbury (Mass.) Post 379 coach Frank Vaccaro said his team was disappointed after its 13-1, six-inning opening-day loss to Troy (Ala.) Post 70 on Thursday in the American Legion World Series.

Then the Post 397 coaching staff and its team watched their Friday opponent, League City (Texas) Post 554 roll to a 12-2, 5-inning Thursday win over Camden (S.C.) Post 17.

“The most challenging thing to do is come back after yesterday because we were embarrassed,” Vaccaro said. “My guys came in here to play baseball. Unfortunately yesterday, they didn’t. Then we watched Texas play last night and they were awesome.”

Vaccaro said his strategy to rebound was simple: Rely on his team’s resolve and try to use a pitcher that might confuse the League City offense.

“Since we knew they could hit the ball so well, we went with our breaking ball pitcher because I wanted to keep them off balance,” Vaccaro said.

Ironically, League City responded with a first-pitch home run by Tristan Zarella — the first time a first-pitch home run has been hit in an American Legion World Series game since 1975.

But after starter and winner Rocco Hickson yielded the home run, he and reliever Ryan Sande combined to shut out the Post 554 offense the rest of the way in Shrewsbury’s 3-1 win in Game 5 of the ALWS on Friday.

“That rattled us for a second,” Vaccaro said of League City’s fast start. “I’m thinking, ‘Oh no!’ But I knew Rocco could keep his poise. He’s not one to get rattled and he looked really good after that.”

Hickson improved to 6-1 on the season by yielding eight hits, no walks and one run with no strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings. The rest was up to hard-throwing closer Ryan Sande, who retired all five batters he faced for a save.

Shrewsbury responded offensively to League City’s initial offensive burst with two runs in the bottom of the first inning and another run in the sixth.

Zachary Amero (double) and Pat McManus had back-to-back two-out RBI hits in the first and A.J. Hamm’s sacrifice fly drove in Jimmy Railsback after Railsback hit a leadoff triple in the sixth.

Ryan Walton (2 hits) and Amero (2 hits, 1 RBI) led Shrewsbury’s 7-hit offense and Zarella (2 hits, home run, 1 RBI) and Wyatt Easter (2 hits) led League City.


American Legion Baseball

American Legion Baseball

American Legion Baseball enjoys a reputation as one of the most successful and tradition-rich amateur athletic leagues. Today, the program registers more than 5,400 teams in all 50 states, including Canada and Puerto Rico.

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